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1. MENA-3 games market revenue will surpass $2 billion in 2022

Niko Partners initiated coverage on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt for the first time in 2022. We call this region MENA-3 in our reports and expect combined games revenue across all platforms to surpass $2 billion this year. Growth will be driven by higher spending per user, additional government support across games and esports, and more gamers entering the market.

2. India will have over 400 million gamers in 2022 

We predict India will surpass 400 million gamers this year, accounting for over ¼ of total gamers in Asia. We also believe that India, the fastest growing market in Asia, will be the next market to reach $1 billion. Niko Partners has often talked about how the ITV markets, referring to Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, would be the next billion-dollar games markets. These three markets have surpassed $1 billion individually over the past two years.

3. Game approvals in China will restart in early 2022 

China’s video game regulator has not approved any new titles since July 22, 2021. There were only 755 titles approved in 2021, compared to 1,411 in 2020. With the roll out of the national anti-addiction and real name identification system now complete, we expect approvals to restart in early 2022.

4. China’s regulatory approach will shift from reform to enforcement

China’s video game regulator introduced new policies in 2021, primarily aimed at curbing gaming addiction among minors. We expect the regulator to shift away from policy reform in 2022, as it looks to ensure compliance with current regulations. We are already starting to see a crackdown on companies that are curbing regulations and we have upgraded the risk of a Steam International ban in China to high.

5. Game companies in China will increase focus on exports 

Chinese game companies have dominated their home market and found success overseas with mobile games. With increased investment in AAA game development, local indie studios and the ongoing regulatory risk at home, we expect Chinese game companies to start finding success on all platforms overseas in 2022 and beyond.

6. Esports will become more legitimate in 2022

In 2017 the International Olympic Committee recognized esports as a sport, in 2018 esports was a demonstration event at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia and in 2022 Esports will be a medal event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. This will lead to more investment in esports player pipelines and player development. 2022 will enjoy an increase in esports training, education, subsidies aimed at esports management, player development.

7. Cross Platform and Cross Play will be a staple of new titles in 2022

The success of multi-platform titles such as Genshin Impact, the widespread adoption of scalable game engines such as Unreal Engine and Unity as well as the demand for interoperability between devices has led to players valuing cross platform experiences with cross play. We expect some of the largest game studios in China, South Korea, and Japan to introduce titles that run across PC, Console, Mobile and Cloud with cross play enabled.

8. 5G will be available across all 14 markets we cover in 2022 

5G has been rolling out across numerous markets in Asia since South Korea launched 5G services in April 2019. This has led to increased download speeds, lower latency and helped enable cloud gaming on the go. Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Egypt are the four markets we cover that have yet to roll out 5G. We expect them to start their roll out by the end of the year.

9. M&A / Investments / IPOs will continue to play an important role  

2021 was a record year for game related investments, especially in China where the number of transactions doubled compared to the prior year. Tencent alone invested in or acquired more than 100 game related companies last year. We expect M&A / Investments to continue playing a notable role in 2022 and beyond as the value of IP, development talent and new technologies become more important. While there may be a lower number of deals closed in 2022, we believe the overall value will continue to remain high.

10. Gaming companies will capitalize on the metaverse trend better than tech companies, but it’s still too early for the concept

Metaverse became a hot word in 2021 with numerous tech and gaming companies embracing the concept. Niko Partners believes that live service video games have been building towards the metaverse concept for several years and that companies with experience in both video game development and social media platform operation will have an advantage when entering this space. We expect game focused companies to see the initial benefits of the metaverse trend while tech first companies will struggle to offer value to users. However, we don’t expect to see a true metaverse experience in 2022 based on the currently accepted definitions.

11. The convergence of video games and the entertainment industry further engages gamers 

The video game industry is building on the concepts of metaverse, pan-entertainment and transmedia which is leading to a convergence between games and entertainment. We expect to see more traditional brands, entertainment properties and artists take advantage of live service games in 2022. On the flip side, we expect to see more collaboration between video game IP holders and traditional entertainment such as movies, TV, and comics. This bi-directional approach will further engage gamers in the future.

12. Blockchain game adoption increases, but the space remains experimental 

Blockchain based games made headlines in 2021 and VCs have invested billions in them. The past year has seen the rise of blockchain based non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in games and the exploration of the Play to Earn (P2E) model. We expect to see new innovative game projects in 2022 and increased adoption of blockchain games. However, the numerous barriers to entry, lack of regulation and questions around sustainability will keep the space experimental in 2022.

13. The local game development scene will grow in developing markets 

Of the 14 markets we cover, Japan, South Korea, and China are considered game development powerhouses due to the hit titles released by domestic developers. The success of Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis (publisher of Axie Infinity) and a 2x increase in local game development studios in India since 2019 shows there is growing talent in these emerging markets. We expect to see the release of a hit game ($100m+ revenue) released by a studio from Southeast Asia or India in 2022.

14. The conversation regarding app store take rates will extend into 2022

The Epic v Apple case made headlines in 2021 and it indirectly led to Apple and Google reducing take rates for developers that earn less than $1m per year. In South Korea, a new bill required Apple and Google to offer alternative in app payment options. In China, TapTap made headlines for offering a 0% take rate and numerous developers have invested in direct distribution to avoid app store fees. As pressure continues to build, we expect platform holders to make further concessions in 2022.

15. Increasing government support towards local game development across SEA

In 2021, governments became increasingly supportive of the video game sector. Vietnam’s government took an active role in the creation of Vietnam Online Game Developers and Publishers Alliance (which will be formally established in 2022), Indonesia’s government showed support towards local game developers through fundings and infrastructure support, and Malaysia’s government continue to allocate specific national budget for gaming and esports. We anticipate more of this in 2022.

16. Korea and Japan to continue deregulation of the gaming and esports industry

Following Korea’s abolishment of the 10-year-old Shutdown Law and looking at Japan’s increasing interest in esports, we expect that both countries will continue to ease regulations or even move towards deregulation of certain laws or ordinances that hamper the growth of the gaming and esports industry. While an overhaul of the regulatory environment might not be feasible, small changes will be possible to occur in 2022.

Check our 2021 predictions accuracy here. All our predictions came true, except for #7 as a freeze on game approvals in China led to a lower number of import games being approved in 2021 vs 2020.

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Nothing is happening: Fortnite servers shut down ahead of Chapter 4

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Fortnite surprised fans last month when Epic Games announced it would be ending Chapter Three after only being around for a year. This came as a surprise, as both Chapters One and Two took at least two years to reach their conclusion. What was even more exciting is that an event would be closing out the Chapter, with maintenance following immediately after.

Now that the event has ended and the island is being reforged, the servers have gone down and players are eagerly awaiting for them to return. With servers going down around 4pm CT it will likely at least be overnight before players are able to log back into the game. During the last event, Collision, the servers were down for about 12 hours after the event ended, but this could easily change.

Now that Epic Games has taken the servers offline, the developer is likely working to get the new map and features implemented into the game. While we aren’t completely sure what to expect from this new season, many players are excited to see how the Island and the Loop will recover after the threat of the Chrome.

In the weeks leading up to the event, many theories about new features have been thrown around by some reputable leakers. Some of these features include HYPEX’s previously leaked first-person perspective, which would definitely add a whole new and exciting way to experience Fortnite. While this info is still speculation, this would likely be as big of a change as the Zero Build mode released earlier this year.

As Epic Games gets the servers ready to go, leaks will likely come out and give players more information about what’s available in Chapter Four of Fortnite.



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2023 Call of Duty League Major 1 Qualifiers: CDL Scores, Schedule, and Results

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The latest Call of Duty League season is officially starting earlier than ever before.

The 2023 CDL season kicked off on Dec. 2 with the opening qualifier matches for Major One, which will be the first LAN of the Modern Warfare 2 season held in Raleigh, North Carolina from Dec. 15 to 18. The tournament will be a $500,000 pro-am event featuring the 12 CDL franchises and four Challengers teams.

Before Major One, the 12 CDL teams will play two weekends of online qualifying matches to determine the seeding for the LAN event. These matches will be best-of-five series played using the CDL maps, modes, and ruleset.

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Schedule for the qualifier matches from Dec. 2 to 4. | Image via Call of Duty League

A lot has transpired between now and when the Los Angeles Thieves ended the 2022 CDL season by winning CoD Champs, though. Before we even get into all of the roster changes made this offseason, arguably the most notable announcements were the retirement of Crimsix and the pending retirement of Scump following the 2023 CDL season.

The L.A. Thieves, OpTic Texas, and Seattle Surge retained their starting lineups from 2022. Every other franchise made at least one roster change, including the Atlanta FaZe, who swapped Arcitys for SlasheR. Arcitys will now play for the Los Angeles Guerrillas, while the Boston Breach also made a one-person change by acquiring Owakening from the Florida Mutineers.

The Paris Legion has relocated to Las Vegas and built a roster around Clayster and Temp. And several other organizations, including the Minnesota RØKKR and Toronto Ultra, made multi-player changes heading into the start of professional Modern Warfare 2 action.

Here are the results from the qualifying matches for Major One of the 2023 CDL season.

Saturday, Dec. 3

Toronto Ultra vs. Minnesota RØKKR

Toronto lead 1-0

  • Embassy Hardpoint: 250-167 Toronto

Friday, Dec. 2

Los Angeles Guerrillas vs. Seattle Surge

Los Angeles win 3-2

  • Al Bagra Fortress Hardpoint: 250-126 Seattle
  • Al Bagra Fortress Search and Destroy: 6-5 Los Angeles
  • Breenbergh Hotel Control: 3-2 Los Angeles
  • Breenbergh Hotel Hardpoint: 250-91 Seattle
  • Breenbergh Hotel Search and Destroy: 6-2 Los Angeles

Los Angeles Thieves vs. Vegas Legion

Los Angeles win 3-1

  • Breenbergh Hotel Hardpoint: 250-204 Los Angeles
  • Al Bagra Fortress Search and Destroy: 6-2 Vegas
  • Breenbergh Hotel Control: 3-0 Los Angeles
  • Mercado Las Almas Hardpoint: 250-198 Los Angeles

OpTic Texas vs. Minnesota RØKKR

Minnesota win 3-1

  • Zarqwa Hydroelectric Hardpoint: 250-203 OpTic
  • Embassy Search and Destroy: 6-0 Minnesota
  • El Asilo Control: 3-2 Minnesota (win via OpTic forfeit of round five)
  • Al Bagra Fortress Hardpoint: Map wasn’t played; Minnesota win via OpTic forfeit

Boston Breach vs. Atlanta FaZe

Boston win 3-1

  • Embassy Hardpoint: 250-207 Atlanta
  • Al Bagra Fortress Search and Destroy: 6-3 Boston
  • Al Bagra Fortress Control: 3-0 Boston
  • Zarqwa Hydroelectric Hardpoint: 250-203 Boston

This article will be updated throughout the Major One qualifiers.



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OpTic Texas Forfeits First CDL Series As Tempers Flare

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It was a season debut like no other, and owing to some memorable and somewhat tragic moments, it’s one that won’t be forgotten for a while. For OpTic Texas, it was a heartbreaking season opener, with a complex and (in the eyes of some) potentially malicious situation bringing about the decision to forfeit the fixture against Minnesota Rokkr. It doesn’t matter if you’re blaming the stability of the game or the decisions of Rokkr’s Cammy, it’s a sour situation all-round.

In the closing seconds of the third-round match, a Control on El Asilo, Cammy summoned an SAE – a GA’d killstreak. There’s a known bug concerning the SAE at present, and it causes the player to freeze in place upon kicking it off, and that’s exactly what happened. There were single-digit seconds left in the game when Cammy called it in and owing to the bug surfacing, the COD League rules determined that the entire round should be replayed.

At that point, OpTic Texas had already won the round.

Controversial, To Say The Least

optic texas forfeit scump

This isn’t how Scump wanted his final season to begin. (Image Credit: COD League)

There are several key pieces of information to take away from this situation. Firstly, given that the SAE killstreak is GA’d, Cammy shouldn’t have been running it in the first place. Furthermore, as a top-tier professional competitor, he should have recognised what it was that he was about to deploy, as the in-game menu does allow for a preview. Unfortunately, owing to limitations in the Modern Warfare II platform, once Cammy had set the SAE up, he couldn’t remove it again.

For now, there are arguments hailing from all sides of the debate. There is the party that believes Cammy was playing maliciously, deliberately using the SAE to trigger the bug and force a replay, especially considering there was no way that Rokkr could have won at that moment, and triggering the bug did bring a replay order around. There’s another party that believes it’s an unfortunate series of events made up of several mistakes and shortcomings of the platform.

Fortunately, Cammy was on hand after the match to explain the situation from his perspective:

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